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Virtual reality workforce learning startup Gemba said today it has closed on an $18 million early-stage funding round that brings its value to $60 million.

The U.K.-based startup, officially known as TLN Training Ltd., said today’s Series A round was led exclusively by New York based investor Parkway Venture Capital, with the funding to help accelerate its growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and also help it expand into the North American market for the first time.

Gemba calls itself a leader in the new virtual reality-as-a-service corporate training business. It has created a unique offering that combines its VR headsets with software and content to help enterprises train distributed workforces across multiple sites. It does so through a series of immersive training programs, simulated factory walks and live training events that must be accessed by donning a VR headset.

With the funds from today’s round, Gemba said, it plans to accelerate the development of its platform by making it available on a subscription basis. It will create an ever-expanding virtual world of training simulations, tools and learning experiences that will be made accessible via an online app store from any location. It’s also planning to build customizable virtual colocation spaces, adaptable mixed reality spaces and AI-powered consultants for enterprises to use its platform at large scale.

Parkway Venture Capital’s co-founder and General Partner Gregg Hill said he believes Gemba is positioned to transform the way global organizations train workforces across all critical learning and development areas. He cited its interactive, on-the-job skills training, its safety courses and its leadership training programs, among others.

“With its immersive platform and deep expertise in workforce training, Gemba is primed to scale and expand into multiple markets, emerging as the future-of-work training leaders for the 21st century enterprise,” Hill said.

Gemba says its platform is used by more than 675 companies, including Nike Inc., Dell Technologies Inc., Pfizer Inc., Koninklijke Philips N.V., Caterpillar Inc., Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. and Aptiv PLC.

Aptiv’s experience with Gemba was described in the World Economic Forum’s Augmented Workforce white paper, which explains that the company had limited expert resources available to deliver high-quality training for new staff across more than 125 factories and 20 office locations. It decided to experiment with Gemba’s VR training services, and found that it was able to convey essential knowledge to new workers with 80% higher efficiency compared with real-world training. Within one year of adopting Gemba, Aptiv reported a significant increase in workforce satisfaction and $2 million in savings from the elimination of travel and related expenses.

Johnson & Johnson Manager of Leadership Development Laura Flanaghan reported a similar experience, saying that it plans to integrate its virtual reality training into its global leadership programs this year and beyond.

“The concept of learning is moving away from the classroom to something that’s to self-selected, self-paced and self-directed,” said Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. “New technologies play a huge role in this, as they can enable a more successful way to learn. VR especially has a lot of promise, as people can learn from real-world examples and even put their new skills into action in the metaverse.”

Gemba Chief Executive Nathan Robinson said today’s funding validates his claim that the company is at the forefront of a new enterprise metaverse. “It’s virtual, hands-on, cost efficient and the VR learning experience is incredible, but it’s the real-world ROI that’s been beyond expectations for our customers,” he said.

Image: Gemba

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